As British writer, illustrator, and schooling ambassador Andrew Hammond is aware of properly, there’s typically a trade-off when working freelance within the inventive sector. Whereas it will possibly present way more freedom and private satisfaction than the standard 9-5, it comes with a sure diploma of uncertainty about the place issues will lead.
As Doug Shields finds, nonetheless, it’s not a lot the result however the inventive act itself that drives Andrew. Having ‘labored his passage’ throughout the business, and having constructed up a devoted fan-base for his creations, massive issues may very well be simply across the nook. Even so, Andrew’s focus stays on what issues most to him—having fun with, and studying from, the method.
There’s a very good probability that you’ll have seen Andrew Hammond’s work—which incorporates TV, the gaming business, and publishing sector—at a while, particularly if you’re a mother or father.
Chances are you’ll already be a fan of his personal Spacekid iLK sequence, launched in 2018 and which has shortly accrued a devoted fan base of youngsters with its healthful mix of humorous but tutorial sci-fi and fantasy adventures.
Like many inventive powerhouses, nonetheless, the unassuming writer and illustrator, whose credit embody CBBC, Pokémon, NBC Common and the Marvel franchises, amongst many others, has remained largely within the shadows, preferring to let his art work to do the speaking.
That, nonetheless, appears set to alter. With a family-friendly model of humour that appeals to all ages, the Spacekid iLK sequence of graphic novels have obtained curiosity from manufacturing corporations together with DreamWorks, Lucasfilm, and Disney.
After we meet for a socially-distanced espresso in London’s Soho, nonetheless, it shortly turns into clear that Hammond is pushed not by cash and notability however by studying and perfecting his artwork. What excites him most are alternatives to speak these concepts which have guided his life with younger audiences, and to have the possibility to work with different sensible creatives.
“I consider that there’s the potential for Spacekid iLK to translate to the large display due to the narrative arc of the principle character and the relevance to kids of the central metaphor, about alienation, and its relationship to acts of alternative.”, he tells me.
“Nevertheless, with regards to these newest alternatives, what can be can be. They’ve been a variety of enjoyable and have taught me quite a bit. Whether or not one thing comes from them or not is but to be seen. Both method I’ll proceed discovering methods to inform the tales I need to inform. It’s thrilling to get possibilities like this and I’ll get pleasure from them and study no matter I can from them, however I don’t get fastened to the concept of the prize on the finish.”
Hammond’s fascination with, and deep-rooted love of, artwork started at an early age when he’d draw his favorite online game characters or create his personal comedian strips.
In his teenagers he moved into oil portray and, by the age of 18, was promoting commissioned portraits to assist fund a basis course in artwork and design. This money-earner continued all through college and would be a focus for a TV director—a pivotal second in Hammond’s profession and one that may alter the course of his skilled life perpetually.
“I took a 12 months out of college, the place I used to be learning movie manufacturing and screenwriting, to be a runner for TV manufacturing corporations. Upon graduating, one of many administrators invited me to work for his firm producing storyboards. He had recognized about my oil work and deemed me a very good ‘match’.”
The chance was too good to overlook, and inside months of leaving college Hammond was capable of mix his ardour for artwork with the opposite factor he wanted most on the time—an revenue.
Additional freelance jobs adopted for main manufacturers together with Coca-Cola and Google. In 2009, he additionally labored on the CBBC TV present ‘Massive Infants’, getting ready storyboards for every. “My function was to arrange the primary visualisation of the scripts—displaying the place the humorous moments could be, Illustrating character reactions, and making selections about composition. It was a beautiful place and helped me study in so many instructions, early on, what works visually, why it really works, and learn how to translate your concepts right into a closing piece.”
It’s maybe no shock that Hammond started experimenting with different artwork varieties. Amongst them was stand-up comedy. He had been writing comedic graphic novels for a while and was by now an in-demand freelancer. In true Hammond type, he needed to place his writing—and himself—to the take a look at.
“I needed to check my writing so I wrote a brand new routine for every gig, most of which went OK,” he explains. “One, a 10-minute Valentine’s Day gig, went spectacularly badly. There was a pair within the viewers who had damaged up the week earlier than, and the heckles—from them and from others within the viewers— got here in thick and quick. Each comic struggled that night time besides the headliners, who dealt with the adverse crowd like professionals.”
While his foray into stand-up was comparatively short-lived, it spurred him on to larger, arguably more difficult issues. In 2011, he met two Russian billionaires at a café not removed from the place we’re sitting. As a aspect job—“It was one thing to do on the weekends”—he co-created a money-saving app and the Russians, who owned and had funded a string of expertise ventures, needed in.
“They had been like characters in Recreation of Thrones—massive, severe males with massive, severe, ambitions,” he mentioned. “There was an funding of £750,000 on the desk, nonetheless my co-partner and I had been unprepared. They needed and anticipated a marketing strategy—which we didn’t have—and so we spent the next weekend creating one. Evidently, it was a steep studying curve.”
The funding by no means materialised and Hammond left the undertaking, although he credit the expertise as one of the crucial worthwhile of his profession so far; instructing him in regards to the “energy of an thought”, and the significance of name improvement and technique.
By 2015, Hammond’s new firm, Andrew Hammond Artwork Restricted, was up and operating and greater issues had been within the making. Like many freelancers, nonetheless, his revenue got here in suits and begins: “It was feast or famine for a minimum of a decade,” he remembers. “This expertise taught me that there are in actual fact two forms of safety: Monetary safety, which is clearly essential and is one thing that all of us attempt for; and the safety that’s born out of creating your individual selections, establishing an identification, discovering a objective, constructing a group of individuals you belief, studying to think about your selections, discovering what makes you cheerful and having the arrogance to pursue it. When the previous felt unstable, I leant on the latter to maintain my focus.”
The cash he saved throughout the feast was put to good use throughout instances of famine, usually at all times on what Hammond calls his “private tasks”. He produced brief movies and music movies, his personal clothes line primarily based on his art work, and launched an internet comedian the place readers might vote for what occurred subsequent. The web site was known as ‘Mythed’ and mirrored his love of science fiction, fantasy, and mythology.
“I’d devoured Greek myths and Jesus’ parables as a child,” he says, “and I beloved the concept of getting tales with a message, instructing the rites of passage from the youngsters’s to adults’ world. You could possibly say they had been a information for all times. I added in humour to make these messages extra relatable in order that they might enchantment to a wider viewers.”
His first comedian was known as ‘Invasion’ and instructed the story of an alien overlord who invaded Earth and needed to take care of the stresses that got here with it. It was a short-run comedian, printed weekly on-line, and would later encourage his e book sequence, Spacekid Ilk [LINK TO https://www.spacekidilk.com].
In 2014, Hammond started work on a brand new comedian e book known as ‘Kong Jnr’. The next 12 months he was concerned with laptop sport ‘Murderer’s Creed Chronicles’, offering artwork to create the sport’s in-game story scenes. This was a type of traditional instances of serendipity, with the corporate he was working with seeking to increase into the e book trailers market. To ‘take a look at the water’ they supplied to show Hammond’s Kong Jnr illustrations into an animated trailer—a possibility he “jumped at”.
The trailer was noticed by his literary agent, Paul Moreton, who prompt that Hammond turned his consideration to e book writing for youngsters. This suggestion gave him a brand new focus and led to the creation of the Spacekid iLKseries—humorous science-fiction graphic novels for youngsters, impressed by his earlier brief caricature, ‘Invasion’.
The primary e book within the sequence, Spacekid iLK: Invasion 101, was printed in 2018, shortly after he had labored on a undertaking for NBC Common, one of many world’s largest media and leisure corporations.
Geared toward kids aged between seven and 13, the e book received the hearts of readers, dad and mom, and reviewers alike. In response to Hammond, his books educate younger readers in regards to the significance of discovering braveness to make their very own selections, and in regards to the interior energy that comes from connecting authentically with others. Because the books inform the story in visible type, with illustrations on each web page, they are perfect for reluctant readers and for youngsters with dyslexia.
The e book’s publication led to Hammond instructing workshops in faculties and changing into an envoy for instructional change.
“Artistic topics are the one alternative at college wherein kids must face the terrifying prospect of creating their very own selections to construct a factor that different folks care about. There is no such thing as a set ‘proper reply’, which is a daunting prospect when our price turns into predicated on understanding proper solutions slightly than on our braveness”, Hammond tells me. “Consequently, inventive topics are seen as a waste of time, however that is the place we will actually confront the query, ‘How do I create worth for others?’ and study the required abilities, like empathy and communication, to take action. Consequently, we keep away from exercising these abilities on which a deeper sense of price is based.”
At across the identical time as the primary e book’s publication, Hammond was working with London-based Maverick Media on the pc sport, Marvel Puzzle Quest. [Hammond is now their UK-based Creative Director, his first ever permanent job, and directs commercials for Pokémon and other games developers]. Being freelance, he was capable of work remotely and was, due to this fact, capable of fly to LA the place he met manufacturing executives at DreamWorks, Lucasfilm, Disney, Skydance Animation, Apple and Think about Leisure amongst others to debate adapting Spacekid iLK for the large display. Talks had been at a pivotal stage when Covid struck and the world—together with Hollywood—went into isolation. Hammond returned to the UK in early 2020 with a deeper confidence within the potential for his tasks.
Since then, Hammond has been exhausting at work on his second graphic novel, Spacekid iLK: Stranded!, and whereas this has been his major focus exterior of the ‘day job’, he stays optimistic about his creation’s suitability for both movie or TV adaptation.
Hammond concluded: “An animated movie could be wonderful and I’m certain that Spacekid iLK would work properly for movie, however TV or streaming are additionally viable paths. If there’s one factor that the rise of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and different streaming companies have proven, it’s that there are actually plenty of alternatives to create authentic animated sequence with a story arc and ensemble forged.
“I’m open to all routes, and equally as comfy persevering with as I’ve been doing, within the extra conventional publishing house. So long as I’m having fun with the method, studying extra every day and mixing with fellow creatives, be they established or children simply beginning down the highway, then I’m more than pleased.”